Author Q&A: Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
We only had our first taste of writing separately last year when we took our maternity leaves back-to-back. And it sucked—we share a creative brain and don’t take that for granted.
We stumbled onto a process with our first novel, The Nanny Diaries, that has essentially remained the same. We work together every week day, beginning with coffee like we’re on a talk-show. We catch each other up on what we’re reading, watching, and listening to. We talk about what’s capturing the Zeitgeist and are particularly interested in those aspects people are not talking about and why that is. The themes of our books are born in the conversations we find ourselves returning back to. Once we have the seed of an idea, we spend several weeks outlining the core elements of the story—primary and periphery characters, each of their arcs, A and B plots, and timeframe. We then break this outline into chapters, go off and generate them, edit them for each other and then string them into one document. Once we have this first draft we sit together and go over it line by line on the computer, on paper, and frequently out loud, until it is ready to go to print. And of course, our editor gets to weigh in at multiple junctures along the way.
How would you describe your book?
It’s our imagining of what it would be like to be in the passenger seat for a celebrity’s nervous breakdown. And that person isn’t just your boss, isn’t just your best friend, but is your family.
What was the hardest part of the writing process for each of you and what are your biggest distractions?
The two hardest parts are outlining, because we liken it to playing Barbies in the dark. Everything is in flux and it’s maddening. Then that phase of editing where you know something isn’t working but you have to bang your head into the carpet until you figure out what it is.
Our biggest distraction is YouTube. We can get sucked down a Sondheim portal until we’re watching sock puppets sing, “I Feel Pretty.”
What are your favorite genres to read?
Anything gripping. We have small children now so when we find time to read we need to be entertained with a capital E. The Hunger Games, One Day, It Happens Every Day. Give us a page-turning plot.
That the tabloids tell half the story, if that.
What is the one thing that you want readers to know about both of you as authors?
We think about our readers’ enjoyment to the point that would make them uncomfortable.
How important do you think social media is for authors these days?
It’s crucial. As book stores disappear it’s the only way to stay connected with readers. We love going on tour, but we only do that once a year. Facebook, Goodreads & Twitter allow us to talk to our readers every day.
What does your daily schedule look like?
We try to get our dogs, laundry, groceries, and children sorted by 11—grab coffee and muffins—and then keep our butts in the chair until 5, when we run to preschool pickup. Glam, right?
What would be your advice to aspiring writers?
Don’t edit yourself when you’re creating a first draft. If you do you’ll judge yourself straight to a blinking cursor. Just vomit it all down. Step away for a few weeks. Then come back, read it through, and start editing the ‘f’ out of it. Be open. There is ALWAYS more than one way to tell a story.
What advice would you give yourself ten years ago?
You really might want to write a sequel to The Nanny Diaries one day.
Any words of wisdom?
Everything is subjective. Nanny Diaries was rejected by 11 publishers and picked by 1. It just takes one.
Are either of you actually Britney Spears fans?
HUGE. We don’t work out without her.
What inspired you to model your book after her life?
She is a fully-functional mother of two who is legally controlled by her father—and now soon-to-be husband. How is this happening in this day and age?
What’s next for the two of you?
Our next YA novel, Over You, is out in August, about a teen breakup coach who can get anyone over anyone in four weeks—or less. Look for an excerpt in September’s Teen Vogue.
THANK YOU SO MUCH, EMMA AND NICOLE, FOR JOINING US ON CHICK LIT PLUS. PLEASE CHECK OUT THEIR LATEST MUST READ, BETWEEN YOU AND ME.